[#] Perspectives on Church Government

You can see this book (and buy it, if you're so inclined) in the recommended reading column on the right, so I'm not going to paste an image here in my brief review of it.

This book has been out for about 6 months, I guess, and I have been through it twice for various reasons -- not the least of which is that I was looking for something a little less, um, one-sided than Strauch's book on Biblical Eldership. See: I think it's an important part of the in-house discussion about a topic like church polity that we not just stake out a camp and then defend it with blind zeal. If we are going to be honest about our selves and our motives, it is useful to get counsel of a reasonable few who are godly men and not necessarily of our like opinion. SUre: I have a bias about the "right answer", but men of good faith whom I respect come to a different answer than I do on this question, and it helps to see why.

One great reason to read this book is that it has affirmative and critical essays in it from two of my favorite "religious stuff" writers: Robert Reymond and James White. The really fun part here is that none of the 5 essayists are writing from a bland academic viewpoint: they are all writing in advocation of their particular demoniational viewpoint. I think the reading is always better when the writer obviously has a vested interest.

Anyway, who should read this book? Well, Christian theological "hobbyists" should read this book -- people who enjoy reading about secondary doctrines of the faith from the various non-fringe perspectives will enjoy the accessibility of this book.

I think pastors who are trying to open an ecumenical dialog with other denominations should read this book. Let's face it: seminary is not always a place where you get a balanced analysis of the practical views of the faith, and this book does a great job of not villianizing anybody. Even when Paul Zahl criticized James' White view of ecclesiology as too "high church", (which I find funny every time I read it, because Zahl is an Episcopal Bishop), it is done in the right spirit -- which is to say, it is given appropriate context to wave off any suspicion that anyone is taking a cheap shot.

Most importantly, in our world where Evangelical laymen and "deacons" or "elders" are frequently under-informed about important (though not necessarily deal-breaking) theological matters because they are too boring or don't fit into the program of a purpose-driven church, this book is for anybody who has concerns about what the church ought to look like from the inside. Does is put every action under the microscope, testing which pass the litmus test of James 1 for true religion? No, it does not. But if your church, for example, is taking under consideration the matter of whether it ought to adopt eldership as the model of accountability and church polity, or if you do not understand why your church does what it does in terms of church polity, this book gives you the introductory summary -- complete with fair criticisms -- of each of the 5 major views of Protestant church goverment.

overall rating: *****(4 stars)